Golf: Mason chips his way to unqualified success

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The Independent Online
BUT FOR a timely return to form, Carl Mason would have donned his waterproofs yesterday morning to join the huddled masses in golf's least loved tournament, the Open Championship qualifying. Instead of teeing off at Irvine Bogside at 8am, Mason was on a flight home pounds 100,000 the richer following his victory in the Bell's Scottish Open at Gleneagles.

Mason and his manager, Chubby Chandler, celebrated until the wee hours and when he walked into the Gleneagles Hotel he was given a standing ovation by a group of his fellow professionals that included Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance, Barry Lane and Howard Clark. The money, of course, was most welcome, but the bonus of gaining exemption to the Open at Turnberry was almost priceless.

The four other places went to Peter Mitchell, who finished second, a stroke behind Mason, Andrew Oldcorn, Miguel Martin and Jim McGovern. Oldcorn, Martin and McGovern went into sudden death with Brett Ogle to determine the last three places. They had all finished at nine under par for the championship, McGovern picking up five strokes in the last five holes.

Mason, who is 41, was resigned to facing the ordeal of having to qualify for the Open after a dismal run during which he missed the cut in the Jersey Open and again in the Murphy's Irish Open. His comment was that he had the best kept lawn in Epsom because he was home every weekend. When he arrived at Gleneagles, he was at a low ebb and his mood was not improved in the pro-am when his partners asked him if he was playing in the Scottish Open.

On the practice ground, Derrick Cooper advised him to narrow his stance and the tip had a dramatic effect on Mason's game. In the third round, when he shot 61, his wife Beryl was so surprised when she heard the news on the car radio she nearly drove off the road. Mason, who trailed Mitchell by a stroke going into the final round, pulled clear by chipping in for birdies at the 10th and 11th. 'When I get that sand wedge going I'm pretty deadly,' Mason said.

Mitchell, who did not get his first birdie until the 10th, responded by very nearly getting a hole in one at the short par four, the 310-yard 14th. His tee shot flirted with the hole before coming to rest three feet past the flag. He had an eagle instead of an albatross. When Mason three-putted the 17th his lead was down to a stroke, but at the 18th he hit a six-iron approach from 197 yards to within 15 feet. 'Terrific shot,' Mitchell said to him. 'He was a lovely guy to play with,' Mason said. 'We talked to each other all the way round.'

Mason went 454 tournaments on the European Tour without a victory until he won the Andalucia Open in Jerez in February. On that occasion, he also three-putted the 17th before beating Jose-Maria Olazabal by a stroke. 'They say the second one is easier but it certainly didn't feel that way,' Mason said. .

Mason earned an invitation to the Johnnie Walker World Championship in Jamaica in December. 'Back on hols,' he said, rubbing his hands. Chandler, who spent most of Saturday evening buying champagne, had considerable cause for celebration. Not only will he be able to exploit the success of the new Scottish Open champion, but he made a sound investment himself on Saturday. A pounds 20 each-way treble on the horses netted him pounds 11,900.

BELL'S SCOTTISH OPEN (Gleneagles) Final leading scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 265 C Mason 67 69 61 68. 266 P Mitchell 67 64 65 70. 267 J Parnevik (Swe) 70 65 64 68. 268 C Montgomerie 67 66 69 66. 270 D Clarke 67 67 67 69; J Lomas 66 66 68 70. 271 J McGovern (US) 71 65 68 67; B Ogle (Aus) 72 66 66 67; P Curry 72 64 67 68; A Oldcorn 70 63 67 71; M A Martin (Sp) 70 65 65 71. 272 M Roe 72 67 69 64; B Marchbank 68 68 69 67; P Senior (Aus) 69 69 64 70; D A Russell 68 65 67 72. 273 P Moloney (Aus) 69 68 70 66; M A Jimenez (Sp) 68 68 65 72; H Twitty (US) 64 70 65 74. 274 P Baker 66 69 71 68; N Fasth (Swe) 70 66 70 68; H Clark 69 69 65 71; P Jacobsen (US) 71 67 65 71; P-U Johansson (Swe) 66 66 69 73; P Broadhurst 67 69 65 73. 275 I Woosnam 66 71 70 68; P Eales 71 68 68 68; S Luna (Sp) 67 67 70 71; W Westner (SA) 68 66 70 71; T Price (Aus) 72 67 65 71; M Springer (US) 70 67 66 72. 276 A Binaghi (It) 72 67 68 69; P Hedblom (Swe) 72 67 67 70; A Sherborne 73 66 66 71; D Feherty 67 69 68 72; R Alvarez (Arg) 69 64 69 74; E Romero (Arg) 69 64 68 75. 277 G Orr 70 69 69 69; A Gillner (Swe) 70 67 70 70; S Ames (Trin) 69 69 69 70; S Torrance 73 66 68 70; J Townsend (US) 69 68 69 71; A Murray 70 68 67 72; M Mouland 72 66 67 72.

(Photograph omitted)

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